“To find interests I never even knew I had an interest in. . .and, to be present in the moment.” After 40 years of precariously balancing a crazy, busy career, these were two heartfelt hopes that I had for retirement.
Despite my long-held belief that I had not a creative bone in my body, I exited my comfort zone and enrolled in a photography class. That was the beginning of being smitten by “an interest in which I never even knew I had an interest.” Through the lens of a camera, I began to “see” and to actually be in the moment. How had I missed seeing such brilliant leaves of autumn? How had I never noticed the multi-hues of blue in a Jay’s feathers? Why had I never noticed dancing reflections of clouds on the water . . . or the shadows made by trees in the golden glow of the afternoon. . .or the intricate designs adorning a butterfly’s wings?”
I have always loved to travel, so when I had an opportunity to take a birthday trip to Oregon–a place I had never before visited–I was ecstatic. To see a dear friend again, view scenery that takes one’s breath away, plus snap photos to my heart’s content. . .oh, my! What could be more wonderful? For me, that next level of “wonderful” was being surprised by joy in the most unexpected moments.
One example of this occurred when my friend and I stopped at the lovely coastal town of Port Orford, Oregon. Perhaps it was the music in the air from an ongoing festival. . .or the fact that it is a town of Norwegian heritage and that tugged at my roots. . .or the Cerulean sky against the rugged sea stacks. At any rate, it just felt magical to me. Maybe it was simply coincidence that it was low tide, and because of that, we noticed a hollowed area at the base of one of the vertical sea stacks. Possibly it was just a fluke that we delayed our journey in order to scramble down the steep slope to glean a glimpse through that opening. What I do know is this: As I was preparing to take a photo of this scene, a magnificent yellow lab appeared in my viewfinder–seemingly out of nowhere–to pose in the center of this beautifully framed portal. What an unexpected joy!
Another stop on our itinerary was Rogue Gorge. A powerfully awesome sight, it has a 500 foot chasm, lava tubes, and an impressive waterfall. Spotting a shy hummingbird moth feeding at one of the flowering bushes along the river–and catching a lucky camera shot of it “frozen” in midair with wings outstretched—what an unexpected joy that was!
Likewise, an unexpected moment of happiness was looking overhead and noticing an exquisite color spectrum as the morning rays reflected “just right” on the delicate silk threads of a spider’s web.
Or, to unwittingly capture the adorable expressions of two dogs as they bounded suddenly from the woods, one protectively carrying a stick and the other one eyeing it brightly with unabashed glee. A huge wave crashing against the rocks at Bandon Beach was a stunning photographic moment, but serendipitously capturing a fly-by gull in that same scene was what gave me a pause of joy.
In periods of introspection, I have concluded that it is likely I may not have given a moment’s thought–or even noticed–these small unexpected joys prior to my retirement and subsequent interest in photography. Even though I loved my job, I wonder: How many moments of simple joy did I ignore because I was too busy worrying about the next deadline or focused on everything else but the present? To quote Dr. Seuss, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something until it becomes a memory.” Or, in my case, sometimes you just have to open your eyes.
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